Ask Rachel / FAQ's

If you have a question about Chalk Paint® please email me at:
or, visit me at the shops. 

I love to talk to you about Chalk Paint®!


Q: I'm trying to get a smooth finish and am finding lots of brush strokes on my furniture after it has dried. Can you help?

A: Most of the time when I see lots of brush strokes it is because you are going over and over the same area with your brush. The paint dries fairly quickly (a good thing) but this does mean that the paint is drying as you keep going through it and that is why you are seeing so many strokes. My advise is to paint with long, smooth strokes and avoid going back over where you have just painted. Be sure to have your brush loaded too, enough that is covers well but not so that it leaves a heavy thick coat. You will see what I mean once you start painting. A few more things: Annie has developed a few new brushes made of synthetic fibers just for a smooth modern look that will glide more smoothly over the piece. And, try dipping your brush in a little water before you paint the second coat. This will help thin out the paint and it will go on a bit smoother. You can also wet your brush and "paint" over the paint. I have a video on Facebook to show you:

Q: My finished piece looks cloudy, can you tell me why?

A: It may be that you have used too much wax and didn't wipe off the excess. This makes it difficult to buff correctly. I like to wax in sections, making sure to wipe off the excess immediately, before it dries. Then let it dry completely before buffing.

Q: I’m going to paint dark stained kitchen cabinets for my son and daughter-in-law.  They just purchased an older home and will eventually redo the kitchen. What preparation do I need to do before I paint these. They like both the Old White and French Grey paint and haven’t decided which one. They do want to lighten up everything to make it look larger. I appreciate any suggestions for this project.

A: Hello, the most important thing is to make sure the cabinets are clean and free of grease. I use a product called Simple Green, but any good cleaning product will do. Paint two coats of paint and put two coats of wax. If they are really dark you may need three coats of paint, but you will know after the second coat. I have a tutorial on my website on painting kitchen cabinets. It's really no different than painting any other furniture.

Q: I am painting kitchen cabinets that I bought unfinished. Do I need to do any prep work to them?

A: Normally, you do not have to prep or sand to paint with Chalk Paint®, but if the furniture is unfinished, you may see some bleeding of the woods tannins  So, to be careful, I would suggest a coat of a clear shellac first. Zinsser makes a fine one. Then paint your favorite color and you should be fine. Note: I have painted unfinished furniture without the shellac and it was fine, but why worry! 

Q: Hi! We bought the graphite paint and painted it on a desk and chair last night. I didn't want stark black but this is not looking even dark grey.  I have read to use the dark wax (not to apply the clear first) to get the richer darker look. Is that what you would recommend? We haven't waxed at all yet. Thanks. 

A: The graphite is a slate gray, not a true black. It will darken after waxing, even with Annie's Soft Clear Wax. To darken it more, you can use the Soft Dark Wax. I personally like the look it takes on with the Soft Dark Wax. And yes you can apply it directly without the Clear. This is one of the few times you can do this. I would test a small section to make sure you are getting the look you want. Note: if you want a black, you will have to add black paint pigment.

Q: Hello - I took your Basics Workshop and want to learn more  - are there any other Workshops?

A: As a matter of fact, I have added a second Workshop to the schedule - Beyond The Basics. This Workshop is for those who have taken The Basics or are experienced with Chalk Paint® and would like to learn about more techniques such as Annie's Waxed Distress Method, Layering with Color Washes and Dry Brushing, how to add Gilding Waxes and more. To sign up, please go to: Chalk Paint® Workshops.

Q: Hi Rachel,  I have some AS chalk paint that has dried up in the can. Is there any way to bring it back? 

A: Since the paint is water based, try adding some distilled water. 

Reply: It worked really well!  I let it sit for a day or two to soften, I poured it through a strainer to remove a few small lumps and it's good as new. Thanks so much Rachel.  PS I'll make sure the can is closed tightly next time!

Q: Rachel, I thoroughly enjoyed your class today and have gathered up my supplies to begin painting tomorrow morning.  However, my notes from today don't say anything about the type of brush to use for the painting.  Of the 4 I own, it looks like my 2 inch ServiStar Premium nylon/polyester for all paints looks like a possible  choice (?)  I also have a 2 1/2 inch polyester for latex paints.  Then I have 2 others: both chinese bristle for oil base paints.  Do you have a recommendation?

A: Glad you enjoyed the workshop! Your brush does not have to be expensive but is does need to have certain qualities, such as natural bristles. They should be fairly long and flexible with a little "bounce". Don't choose a brush with short or inflexible bristles since the paint will not flow well. Don't use a floppy brush either because the paint will not spread well. And don't choose a brush with hard or inflexible bristles because the paint will look scratchy.

Annie Sloan brushes are pure boar brushes and are excellent for applying Chalk Paint®. They give you the freedom to paint expressively, hold lots of paint and are comfortable to hold and easy to work with.

Q: I have decided to re-paint with another Chalk Paint® color; can I paint over the wax?

A: Of course! One of the key features about working with Chalk Paint® decorative paint is it’s easy to change your mind. You can apply another coat or two of Chalk Paint® over your previous finish, and then seal your new paint layers with a coat or two of Soft Wax.

Q: Can I paint my walls with Chalk Paint®?

A: Yes! Chalk Paint® covers walls beautifully. You can use a brush or roller for this and can leave unwaxed for a soft matte finish or cover with Soft Wax for a soft shine. I have painted walls in both my shops with Chalk Paint® - stop by to take a look.

Q: I am looking for a coral color; can you help?

A: One of the amazing things about Chalk Paint® is the ability to mix and to create hundreds of colors from Annie's basic palette of 31 colors. To make coral, try mixing Emperor's Silk with Pure White and Scandinavian Pink with Barcelona Orange. The amounts are up to you depending on the shade you are looking for. I am starting a new feature on my Facebook Page called "Color Recipes" - watch for updates.

Q: I waxed my piece and there seems to be a "film" over the piece. Can you tell me what I did wrong?

A: Sounds like a case of too much wax. You should never see a film of wax nor should you see fingerprints in your surface after waxing with Annie Sloan's Soft Waxes. Remember to push the Soft Wax into the paint and then wipe off any excess with a soft clean cloth prior to buffing. After this step, you should not feel the wax on the piece! I like using the Ultimate Wax Brush because I never seem to use too much wax with it and it makes pushing the wax into the paint easy.

PaintTip: I like to clean my wax brushes with a gentle lye soap such as I sell in my shops.

Q: Can I use Annie's Lacquer on outside furniture?

A: The Lacquer is a clear water-based finish that was developed by Annie for use on floors (wood or concrete) or other heavily used furniture, but was not meant to be used outdoors. Apply two coats after painting with Chalk Paint®, using a brush or roller. The finish is very tough, non-yellowing (it will darken the underneath color slightly), fast drying and resistant to stains and spills, although it is not recommended for use in areas where it will get a lot of water (think bathrooms). And, allow to dry overnight before using or walking on the floors.

Q: Do I have to use the special paint and wax brushes you sell with the Chalk Paint®?

A: It is important to use GOOD brushes when you paint! The brushes I sell at my shops were specifically designed to work with Chalk Paint® and the Soft Waxes. While you don't have to use these brushes, I guarantee that they will give you the best finish in the shortest amount of time and will last for years. You will actually use less wax with the Ultimate Wax Brush (the flat surface actually helps to "push" the wax into the paint) and Annie's Paint Brushes (which come in three sizes) hold lots more paint than the conventional brushes. Try them - you'll love them! 

Q: I have some wax from my hardware store - can I use that over Chalk Paint®?

A: "Hardware" store wax is usually a hard wax that I have found very difficult to work with. Annie's Soft Wax is just that, it is like soft butter (or Crisco for you Southerners) and was specifically developed to work with Chalk Paint®. It is actually absorbed into the paint. Once you've used her wax you won't be tempted to use any other! I like using the Ultimate Wax Brush for applying Annie Sloan Soft Wax, but you can also use a soft cloth.

Q: I love the colors but some can be very "intense" - how can I make them less so?

A: I often add Old White or Pure White to the paint. I just love the tints that can be created. So, if you like the color but want a less vibrant tone, start with a base of the primary color and gradually add either white until you get the tone you want.

Q: How many coats of Chalk Paint® do I need to use on my furniture?

A: It depends on the amount of coverage you desire. I almost always use two coats in that I usually want to completely cover the piece I am painting. That being said, you would only use one coat if: the first coat covers the piece to your satisfaction, you are painting a color wash, you are distressing down to a first color or to the wood surface. There is no "right" way - you need to paint the first coat and see if that works! Annie's paints are highly pigmented and you should be happy with two coats at most. I have only painted more when using a very light color over a dark, such as Pure White over dark mahogany. 

PaintTip: If you are not getting the right amount of coverage with Pure White, try painting a first coat using Old White. Pure White has no pigmentation and the Old White will give it some depth.

Q: Can I use polyurethane over Chalk Paint®?

A: I have never found it necessary to do anything other than finish furniture with Annie Sloan's Soft Wax and found this to provide the protection I need. I find that polyurethane has a plastic-looking finish, scratches and can change the color of the paint. Annie has developed a special Lacquer for use on floors.

You can use either Annie Sloan Lacquer or your choice of polyurethane, if you want a "tougher" finish. Annie's Lacquer is a clear sealant that can be used on floors painted with Chalk Paint® Decorative Paint or to help protect the finish on painted furniture which sees lots of use. Application is easy with roller or brush, and the product dries quickly! It will slightly darken the color beneath it with a matte finish. 1 liter container covers approximately 33 square feet.

Please note that neither the Lacquer or the polyurethane can be applied over Annie Sloan Soft Wax. Also, the Lacquer is meant for indoor use.

Q: Have you used the waxed paint technique yet? If you have, any tips? The armoire that you have pictured (in your blog) is in a book of Annie’s and it happened to be just what I was looking for.

A: This technique is in Annie Sloan's new book, Color Recipes for Painted Furniture, which is available in both the Irvington and Richmond shops. Yes, I have used this technique and love it. Use the directions on page 33 - 35. They are pretty straight forward and the look is very nice. I used Pure White and Paris Grey rather than the colors she used, just that I wanted a different color mix. Let me know how yours turns out!

Note: See my blog on the Waxed Painted Technique, for more information on this method.

Q: I can't wait to start on the dresser...hopefully this weekend. I plan to use the Old White/Paris Gray combo. Can I add the Graphite to the top later after waxing? I think I want to do the top black, but wanted to see what it looked like first. Should I hold off waxing the top if I decide to add it, or is it ok to add after waxing?

A: Glad you are starting the dresser! Another great feature of using Chalk Paint® is the ability to go back after waxing and re-paint; so go right ahead and paint it Graphite later if you want! Let me know how it turns out...

Q: I painted a piece of furniture in my garage this past weekend (no heat) and the paint looks like it is peeling. What do you suggest?

A: It sounds as if the temperature was too cold! It is best to paint in a place that is 55 to 85 degrees. This goes for storing your paint and wax also. You will have to sand down the peeling paint (unless you like the chippy look) and repaint and wax. But please, bring it inside first! Remember there is little if any odor with these projects - I paint all the time in my shop. Click the link for more TIPS ON USING CHALK PAINT.

Q: Hello.  I just completed my first Chalk Paint project (at least once I find the hardware I need).  Using Versailles paint and clear wax, I painted two bedside tables I plan to use in my new art room.  I noticed when I applied the clear wax, the areas I distressed really “popped.”  I really like the distressing along the edges, but some of the flatter areas are a little more distressed than they looked prior to applying the wax.  I was wondering if I can now apply a little more of the chalk paint on some of those areas and rewax them for a little more coverage.  If not, not a big deal.   

A: You can certainly re-paint over Annie's Soft Wax! That is one of the beautiful things about these products - if you don't like you first result, just re-do it! A suggestion  - try waxing before you distress. The wax and paint will bind together and you will not have  "dust" from your distressing. Let me know how that works.

Q: I am interested in learning more about using the paint; how do I sign up for one of your classes?

A: I am offering a series of three hour hands-on Workshops at both our Richmond and Irvington locations. You can find our more about these by going to the Workshop Heading on my blog above. Look forward to seeing you there!

Q: I was in your shop this other day and you were painting a counter top that looked like formica? 

A: I was indeed painting a new work counter for the Irvington shop. The top was an old formica kitchen counter top that we were re-purposing. Chalk Paint® will cover almost anything! I love the Graphite we chose. I posted a photo of the before on Facebook. Stop by and see the transformation!

Q: Rachel - I've been looking at the Chalk paint.  Are there more colors?  Is there a way to combine colors to make a certain color? I'm looking for a brick an old barn. Any ideas? I've been in your Irvington store many times, but I live in Richmond so I want to stop by your new store ; o )

A: Yes, you can easily mix colors to make a unique color. Annie Sloan created them with a lot of pigment for just that reason. However, have you looked at Primer Red? I think that may be what you are looking for! We have a color sample at the shop at DeCOR in Carytown. They are open seven days a week and would be happy to assist. Also, I will be starting paint classes later this month (January 2013) and am posting a schedule later today on

Q: I read your tutorial on waxing and used the buffing sponge for the first time and WOW!!! what a diference. I can't even believe the difference it makes! I will never wax again without finishing with buffing. I even went back and buffed a piece I painted 6 months ago. I love it much more now : )  My question - I am losing a lot of bristles from the brush when I wax.. any suggestions?

A: Glad you found that buffing with the high grit (600 - 800) helped! I call it my secret weapon. To help with the loose bristles, try rapping the brush gently on a hard surface before using to loosen the brush. Washing first also helps.

I've started selling buffing brushes now also, so now you three ways to buff - soft cloth, buffing sponge or buffing brush. Let me know which you prefer!

Q: Do I have to wax after I have painted?

A: I wax 99% of the time! That's because the wax acts to seal and protect the paint. Because the paint is matte, waxing also brings out the beautiful patina. It is not recommended to wax furniture that will be outdoors however, but to let it distress naturally.

Q: The colors are beautiful, but I don't see the one I want.

A: Chalk Paint® is made to mix! You can create exciting new colors by mixing two or more colors together or, to lighten a color, mixing it with Old White or Pure White. Experiment!

Q: Are you Annie?

A: No - but I am asked that all the time! Here's a little about her. Annie Sloan lives and works in Oxford, England. She trained as a painter and is the author of over 20 books on the subject. She developed her own very special decorative paint which is specifically designed for furniture, but can also be used on wall, floors and outdoors. To learn more about Annie and her wonderful paint, click on the video on the sidebar. 

Q: I have classic looking beveled oak cabinets but hate the oak color. would love a creamy/antiqued finish and have thought of painting the cabinetry. Would like to know if chalk paint treatment is viable for cabinetry.  (also thought of top cabinets in cream and bottom cabinets in a gray).

A: Absolutely!!  You can use Chalk Paint® on kitchen cabinets. Use at least two coats of paint, let dry, and then give it two or three coats of wax to seal it, waiting about 24 hours between the wax coats. Our wax is water repellent and strong - refresh every now and then with another coat of wax if needed. Clean up is simple - just wipe over with a damp cloth. Chalk Paint™ even works on surfaces like laminate (might need some roughing up). It is not recommended for kitchen counters since people tend to cut on them. Let me know how they turn out! 

Q: Hi! I bought Chalk Paint® and wax last week and am not sure how long to leave the wax on before buffing with the sandpaper. The wax also seems to be uneven! What should I do?

A: You can buff with the high grit sandpaper (600-800) as soon as the wax has "set", usually in less than an hour. I find that by the time I have waxed the entire piece, it is ready for me to buff. No need to leave overnight, unless you want to. As for the second part of your question, it appears that you may have used too much wax and then not wiped off the excess before buffing. Remember....Wax On, Wax Off, Buff! See my Tutorial - Waxing and Buffing for more information.

Still have questions? Then see these FAQ's.

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